Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) proposed developing roadside amenities at the immigration checkpoint in Hongtsho and Dobji Dzong in Paro instead of Kamji and Wangkha in Chukha, during its annual performance agreement’s (APA) mid-year review on February 26.

TCB had plans to develop four roadside amenities during the APA 2017 – 18.

TCB’s director, Chhimmy Pem, said the target was not at risk if the number is considered. “It is just that the identified place have been changed.”

Chhimmy Pem said that roadside amenities were found necessary in the new identified places.

Construction of a toilet has been completed; another one is underway.

“The construction of a toilet at the immigration checkpoint in Hongtsho will begin soon,” said Chhimmy Pem.

TCB will not be able to build the roadside amenity in Kamji as planned because of unavailability of land and water supply issue in the area. The integrated checkpoint at Wangkha already has a toilet, so the fourth roadside amenity will be developed near Dobji Dzong.

However, Chhimmy Pem said TCB would continue working on developing a roadside amenity in Kamji because there is a need for one there.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay urged TCB to investigate if there really was a need to have a roadside amenity near Dobji Dzong. “If it benefits the people and is necessary to have one, then it has to be built. In terms of building a toilet in Kamji, if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know.”

Chhimmy Pem said that having a toilet near Dobji Dzong would not only benefit international but also domestic visitors.

The Prime minister urged TCB to develop the roadside amenities as soon as possible.

Of TCB’s 47 success indicators, 45 are on track.

The other indicator at risk is the failure to conduct Bird festival in Zhemgang as planned due to lack of budget.

Chhimmy Pem said TCB is not mandated to carry out the work but to provide financial support.

The dzongkhag administration had requested for Nu 1.5M (million) budget to host the festival.

Prime minister, however, said the target was not mentioned as at risk in the dzongkhag’s APA. “Maybe it was not included in their APA.”

TCB has provided the fund to support the development of other festivals in eastern Bhutan. The budget was divided to financially support the Hungla Chhoepa in Trashiyangtse and Tokari Tshechu in Trashigang.

Prime minister said TCB was willing to give Nu 0.5M but the dzongkhag did not accept it and the amount were spent on some other areas. The target, he said, will be considered achieved.

Chhimmy Pem said: “We asked them to have the festival included in their APA and have a proper plan, including the required budget to conduct the festival and let the TCB know from the beginning of the year if they are to showcase the festival to the tourists.”

Prime minister said that since the festival is important, the government and TCB would take the responsibility to arrange adequate budget for the festival.

Of TCB’s revised budget of Nu 113.19M, it had so far spent Nu 51.74M.

Dechen Tshomo